WASHINGTON — Just weeks after a school shooting in Nashville, Tennessee, that killed three nine-year-olds and three school staff members where the shooter used an assault weapon equipped with an arm brace, Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee are set to advance legislation that would make it easier for dangerous individuals to get their hands on these dangerous weapons equipped with arm braces.
“Less than a month after a shooter with an assault weapon equipped with an arm brace murdered six people in Nashville, House Republicans are attacking an ATF rule that keeps arm braces out of dangerous hands,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety. “The gun industry has long promoted arm braces as a way around restrictions on short-barreled rifles, and now Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee are playing along to protect gun company profits.”
“The Biden-Harris Administration’s leadership is why we have this arm brace rule, and their leadership means that at the end of the day, it’s not going anywhere,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action. “We’ve seen arm braces make the mass shootings in Nashville, Colorado Springs, Boulder, and Dayton deadlier. Lawmakers should be working to pass gun safety laws, not standing shoulder to shoulder with the gun industry to repeal this life-saving rule.”
Republicans on the Judiciary Committee were prepared to repeal the Biden-Harris regulation under the Congressional Review Act the day after the Nashville shooting, but canceled the vote as news of the tragedy broke. Still, 185 House Republicans currently support repealing the arm brace rule.
Arm braces were originally designed as a niche accessory to help disabled shooters in 2012, but the gun industry has since used arm braces to flout long-standing regulations on short-barreled rifles. These firearms have been subject to stricter scrutiny for nearly a century because, as the Department of Justice has explained, “they are easily concealable, can cause great damage, and are more likely to be used to commit crimes.” Thankfully, in January, the Biden-Harris Administration finalized a rule that closes this loophole by treating firearms equipped with arm braces like the short-barreled rifles they are.
Guns with arm braces have been used in the mass shooting at Club Q in Colorado Springs in November 2022 where five people were shot and killed, in a Boulder grocery store in 2021 where ten people were shot and killed, including a law enforcement officer, in the mass shooting in Dayton in 2019 where nine people were shot and killed, and in the mass shooting in Nashville less than a month ago.
In mass shooting after mass shooting, we see only one kind of short-barreled rifle used: those with arm braces. That’s because arm braces have enabled shooters to evade the heightened regulations that Congress put in place on short-barreled rifles with the National Firearms Act in 1934, specifically because these firearms are more dangerous and associated with violence and crime. House Republicans are now actively seeking to repeal these requirements, pretending guns with arm braces aren’t short-barreled rifles, even though these firearms look, shoot, and kill all the same.
The move to undo the arm brace rule comes as part of a concerted attack by gun extremists on the ATF, whose mission is to protect the public from violent crime, including gun crime. In March, subcommittees of the House Oversight & Accountability Committee and House Judiciary Committee held a hearing attacking the ATF. At the hearing, Everytown’s Federal Legal Director, Rob Wilcox, pushed back on the lies from gun-lobby-backed lawmakers and testified to the crucial role that the ATF, in partnership with state and local law enforcement agencies, plays in keeping communities safe and combating gun violence. Republican gun extremists in Congress have already introduced legislation this session to abolish the ATF in its entirety and are on the record saying that if they cannot eliminate the ATF, they are “going to try defunding” it.